“And he shall make restitution for the harm that he has done in regard to the holy thing, and shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.”
The first five chapters of Leviticus introduce us to five offerings; a part of Israel’s worship. The first three were free will offerings, meaning the individual gave of his own volition. The final two were compulsory. There was no relationship with God without the sin and trespass offerings.
The sin offering points to the work of Christ on the cross. As a Lamb without spot or blemish, Jesus went to the cross to once and for all, pay for the sins of humanity. His blood was spilled, and the offering was accepted. We know this because of His resurrection from the dead, ascension to Heaven’s throne, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon His church. The trespass offering also points to the work of Christ. John taught that because Christ was sacrificed for us, we can confess our sins, and receive forgiveness. Confession is a necessary part of walking with the Lord. When we fail, we need to go to the Throne of Grace, confess our failure, and receive His cleansing. The trespass offering reminds us, when certain sins are committed, the offering must include “restitution.” The priest determined the amount of the restitution, depending upon the sin that was committed.
It was not as though the person was buying their way out of sin, but pointed to the fact that sometimes sin, while forgiven, is still very costly. Jesus may have been referring to the trespass offering when He said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). At times, the cost of our sinful action is a breach in relationship with others.
While relationship with God is restored when we confess, relationship with others may need additional attention. If my actions have hurt, offended or stumbled another brother, it is important that I go out of my way to do whatever is within my power to see that relationship restored.